Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.
M. L. King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)


Please, edit and revise, and send back to me, if you don't mind.

Alone, he sat, sipping his coffee, thinking about his next move. The light was sneaking past the heavy clouds outside the window, outside the café. He had left chaos and destruction behind him, that much he had resolved. What to do next? Resolve is only the beginning. What to do next?

He sipped his coffee.

Find a new job? Get a new apartment? New city, new friends? What constitutes change, what change constitutes progress? He knew that he had to do something, accomplish something, to finally finish those things he started. That’s where he should start. That’s where he should do. Instead, he sipped his coffee, looking at the light.

The clouds were dense; think foam hanging in the sky. It wasn’t quite like a blanket in the sky, more like endless pillows. Light was working its way around the giant puffs of faint translucence, struggling yet succeeding to reach the floor of the earth. He yearned to feel the warmth of the sun, the sensation of connection, connection to the world around him, to connect him back to reality.

He sipped his coffee. It was beginning to get a little cold. His leg began to fidget, the half empty mug began to spin in his hands. Twitchtwitch. Twitchtwitch.

Do something! Make something! Contribute something! the light that was working so hard to reach him said. See how far I’ve come? See the burdens I’ve borne, the hurdles I’ve leapt, the walls I’ve penetrated. Match that. Do something.

Do something, do something. He sat there. Twitchtwitch. What is there to do? What is there to do? What is there to do? What is there to do? The mug, spinning, offered no advice. The leg, twitching, pleaded the mug, “Look at all this energy I’ve got! Give me direction! Let me create!”

The mug, mute as ever, continued to spin. Until he took another sip.

This time, when he set the mug back down, it lay still. His hands collapsed upon themselves, resting on the rough-appearing though heavily lacquered-until-smooth-to-the-touch wooden table. Again he stared out the window, this time, however, letting the hard-working light illuminate the people outside the window, outside the café.

He noticed the runner passing in front, in the garb of an ironman competitor, and noticed her crossing paths with another runner. This guy, he was seriously overweight, and in the bagginess of his clothes he tried to hide it. But still, he had to acknowledge , the man ran.

He noticed the students studying outside the café, and inside the café. The nearest was sitting right in front of him, and he could see over her shoulder, see what she was working on. It looked like some essay about early American writers. It also looked like complete trash. But the girl still wrote. Maybe she didn’t know how awful her creation was. Or, more likely, she didn’t care.

What to do, to overcome these issues. How to see, how to act…are the two related? Do they connect? Or are they permanently at odds, our actions limiting our sight and our sight paralyzing our actions? The mug, mostly empty now, the coffee in it decidedly cold, was spinning once more. Though the twitchtwitching of his leg had subdued.

The spinning of the mug entranced him as he looked down, and the café floor fell out from around him, the table that supported the awful essay and the girl that wrote it was flung away, along with the rest of the tables. The counter faded to black, the walls crumbled, the roof flew away.

Alone, finally alone, he picked up his pen, and started to write a story. He wrote a story about a kid, a lot like himself, who sat at his desk in his parent’s house, and after leaving behind him destruction and chaos, picked up his copy of Second Volume of the North Anthology of American Literature, opened it up to Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself, and, after sitting, wrote an essay, a crappy, shitty shitty essay, but wrote an essay.


Violent Revolution

Sometimes when reading I encounter passages like this one, from Nicholas Kristof's most recent column, and I wonder if I was around 30 years ago I'd be as willing to tackle the society's problems through government:
Some Americans used to argue that it was impossible to rape an unwilling woman. Few people say that today, or say publicly that a woman “asked for it” if she wore a short skirt. But the refusal to test rape kits seems a throwback to the same antediluvian skepticism about rape as a traumatic crime.
I feel like I'd be more predisposed to to violence. But that always makes me think: "What am I dismissing today?"


My phone's broke, but you can reach me at _________

Sorry if confused you, my phone's actually in good shape. But I've seen twice in the last two days Fbook statuses like that.

It seems to me that there is a unique pleasure in having someone so close that you can be reached through them. Seems nice.

Do y'all agree?


7 cups of coffee and blue, blue sky

Boxed in boxed in.

Boxed in by this glass this glass wall its got me trapped its got me trapped.
Its got me trapped this glass wall but its glass so it failed a little I guess ‘cause my eyes they aren’t trapped no my eyes they can still wander as they please, they look out into the world that surrounds me this world that I can’t touch or really even here but I can see yes I can see.

Whats this whats this?

Where am I going, where is this taking me? I can still see I can see all around but I can’t see where I’m headed or why I’m headed there. Why can’t I see? Why can’t I see?
Wait a second, wait a second. This glass, it isn’t so glassy actually, its more like something else. Not quite sure though, but it seems to me that I might be able to put my hand through it. Yeah, I think that I might.

Though I s’pose I could put my hand through glass too, huh. But I’d have to be ready for some pain, am I ready for some pain?


Our eternal Messiah complex

H.G. Wells on FDR:

[For] some months at least before and after his election as American President and the holding of the London Conference there was again a whispering hope in the world that a real “Man” had arisen, who would see simply and clearly, who would speak plainly to all mankind and liberate the world from the dire obsessions and ineptitudes under which it suffered and to which it seemed magically enslaved. ...

[...] Everywhere as the Conference drew near men were enquiring about this possible new leader for them. “Is this at last the Messiah we seek, or shall we look for another?”

Every bookshop in Europe proffered his newly published book of utterances, Looking Forward, to gauge what manner of mind they had to deal with. It proved rather disconcerting reading for their anxious minds. Plainly the man was firm, honest and amiable, as the frontispiece portrait with its clear frank eyes and large resolute face showed, but the text of the book was a politician’s text, saturated indeed with good will, seasoned with much vague modernity, but vague and wanting in intellectual grip. “He’s good,” they said, “but is this good enough?”

(Courtesy Andrew Sullivan)

We just really, really, really want Messiah's, huh. Or is it because we wish that we were Messiahs?



Excerpt from Politico's "Ten Ways to Recoup the Bonuses":

4) Rescind the contracts: If the bonus recipients won’t renegotiate, simply withdraw the contracts under which they received the bonuses. “Every first-year law student learns that a court can invalidate a contract’s ‘unconscionable’ terms, rescind it or reform it,” James P. Tutill, a lecturer at the University of California-Berkeley law school blogged over the weekend. “If these bonus contracts benefiting the very people who have destroyed incalculable amounts of wealth in the pursuit of their own personal greed don’t warrant revision, rescission or reformation, then our legal system is seriously deficient."

(emphasis mine)


This will wake you up

There's nothing quite like the mother of all funk to get you out of bed in the morning.


I was at a buddy's house tonight, and I was enjoying myself for the most part. I drank a coupla beers before I left, but by the time I got there I was done. It was sweet to see these old friends, these familiar faces that kept me buoyant during high school when I felt that everything just wanted to drag me down the bottom of the sea. I was made content by those faces.

At one point, though, I was crossing into a room of personal creativity and individual production; my buddy Will was rhymin', goin' on some 15 minutes at that point, while Brock and, well, I don't know the name of that other kid, well, they were workin' on some art in the street art discpline, if it can be called that. I suppose that its more of a tradition, now. Definitely more of a tradition.

Anyway, feeling that I had nothing to offer myself, but eager to remain and appreciate their creations, I looked for something to pretend to do while I took in their beauty. I saw that the Metro section of the Journal Sentinal was laying on the dinning room table, so I picked it up. Usually that paper is such a rag, I musta thought, there's no way that it'd say something that I would be interested in.

Wrong. I was wrong. I was so wrong.

"Shorewood man arrested in Whitefish bay teen's drug death."

My mom told me about this story two weeks earlier, and that night the whole family talked about it. I knew next to nothing about the details, but I remember making a point to tell my little brother "to take this very seriously." I see enough of my friends doing perscription drugs illegally, and since this story, I've learned that I would know nothing about telling the difference between someone passing out 'cause they had too many and passing out 'cause they were about to die.

All that I knew was that I didn't know how to tell if someone was going to die, and I wanted to make sure that my little brother didn't ever, ever feel comfortable around these kinds of drugs, despite whatever bullshit the people who take them tell you. Its much, much better to overreact, then to underreact.

And this time, I realize it. To anyone who reads this blog who takes offense to that statement, I don't give a flying fuck. I'll take your indignance, I end a friendship. I will not, under any circumstances, believe you if you try to tell me that illegally consumed perscription drugs shouldn't be treated seriously, very seriously.

Yes, the system's not perfect. Whatever. I'd rather more people live unhappy, in the hopes that they will find the opportunity to find their value, rather then hear some bullshit about how its really ok for people to take those kinds of risks themselves.

There's no such thing as putting your life in serious danger yourself. The number of people who could die without leaving some one behind marks less then one hundreth of one percent of this population, so I won't here you bullshit. I don't give a fuck if you don't realize that the rest of us care about you. This is a selfish thing. I will not stand by and let you kill yourself. My opinion of you matters too.

Well, as you can tell, I read that article, and barely got through the first 3 paragraphs before I couldn't read anymore. It was too much, for me. I value life too much, contemplated death too often, to come to terms with it. I needed to get outside.

I through on my boots, and fell onto the porch steps behind two of my buddies, and they were talking about MF Doom. Will was out there, the one rhyming, and Alex. Two kids that I consider my closest friends. My earliest memory of Alex dates back 12 years, but I've known him longer. Will and I have lived across the street from each other since high school, then we moved to college and we're still living next to each other. Crazy.

I was sitting there aware of their conversation, but that story was burning in my head. I waited for their conversation to die down, and as I waited I appreciated the cold biting my skin, reassuring me of my life, my vibrancy. A hole openned up, and I told them what I thought.

I was told that that kind of thing happens with black people the time. Asked when the last time I responded like that when a poor person died this way. Told that people make a big deal when white people die. "Too socially aware," one said, "not a bad thing, though." Then why do I feel so incredibly bad for not feeling this way when it happened to the kid in the hood, the kid who had no college hopes, or at least society said so?

I felt so confronted, still feel so confronted, with my inablilty to care for all people, to fight for all causes, to stand for everything that is right. Its so hard, somedays, to believe that the things that I fight for could be wrong, that the things I feel could be corrupted by my very luck of being born into a family with finacial stabililty.

Why is it that our aspirations can be corrupted by our position, yet our actions can be so corrupted by our location?

That is the world that I think we can create, with a healthy balance of self-interest and social interest. I damn confident that I'm right too, even though I'm not ready to argue it. But everyday I go and I see more and more that is right with world, even when I see what is has gone wrong, I see what is right, and I'm convinced that we can create a world that takes no creation at all, that is inherently everybody's world. Fuck you, I'm an idealist. Fuck you, I'm going to fight for what's impossible, and I don't care if my impossible kills other people's dreams. I believe that my impossible is better than your possible any day of the mother fucking week, and beyond that, I'm pretty damn sure that it has room for your impossible too. You just gotta be ready to believe in the impossible.

Its been an emotional week.

Courtesy Brock Teter

Again, hat tip to JBT


Two days ago, an accident occurred during Colleen's backpacking trip in Patagonia.

You can read about it

I talked to some of you about this today, some of you I didn't, and I'm sorry for that. But I just got off the phone with Colleen's mom, and she spoke with Colleen last night, on the telephone. I wanted to make clear a couple of things.

Colleen reports being both physically and emotionally healthy. She expects to that the trip will go on: Outward Bound is sending in additional staff, they're going to spend a lot of time figuring their shit out, but Colleen said that the group remained strong, actively dealing with the tragedy.

My apologies for the dryness of this post. To write any other way would be too hard. I hope to capture the depth of pride and love and compassion and gratitude for Colleen, for the family of Travis Lizotte, and the role of the dice, but right now, I can do it no justice.

UPDATE: If some of you check this post before 3:45 PM, then you saw a different article then is up now. The new article tells a lot more about Travis Lizotte, the man who died.

UPDATE 3:50: Its not clear whether or not Colleen fell in the Crevasse. She did not, she was not one of the students who went to the hospital.


My lovely printer

Every time I have a deadline, I think "Today's the today!" My heart fills with hope and I plug my printer into my computer believing that there will be no problems.

Every times its more like this:

Mistabishi - Printer Jam from Hospital Records on Vimeo.


Woah, check it!


Greatestest Generation?

My grandma came to see me graduate high school last year. My grandpa too. It was an extra special occasion, because not only was I graduating high school (no one was sure 'til the absolute last minute), but I was giving the speech (the last minute actually had to bumped up so we could know before the school printed the programs). Her appearance was only out of the ordinary in that she was 83, my grandpa was a stroke victim, and they lived in Iowa: driving to Milwaukee was a painful experience. Irregardless of all that, my grandma was, unexpectedly, proud. Well, we've all got grammas, right? We know how they are.

Anyway, after the speech was given and the ceremony celebrated, Grandma came up to me, gave me a most-wonderful Grandma hug, and congradulated me, beaming. But then she told me something special, something I likely won't ever forget, "You know Ty, I've been reading in the newspaper that you guys, your generation, you're going to be the next Greatest Generation."

Telling me about how the New York Times was saying we're compassion and adaptable and all these other things that are wonderful, the kinds of things that every grandma wants to tell her grandkids, I was struck. Usually I dismiss these kinds of things, I hate fatalism, refuse to believe in higher purposes, and try to avoid letting my Grandma's compliments go to my ego too much.
But this, I don't know, it rang in my ears like nothing else. Still today, when I think about the kids I graduated with, I can't help but think, "hot damn."

But just now, I was reading Paul Krugman's recent Op-Ed piece and realized that there is one difference between us and the former Greatest Generation, one that will define our future, our prosperity, our freedom. See, Grandmas was born in 1934, right in the middle of the Great Depression; too say that she learned to save would mean the half of it.

Our ability to save will define our success.


I was a proud Catholic once. But then Phillip Pulman got in the way.

An innocent boy poisoned by guilt looked up at the bearded and bespectacled man signing his book. Teeming with curiosity, the boy overcame his shyness and asked the man a question that had been bothering him since finishing the man’s last book: “Excuse me, sir, but do you really believe what you write?”

The man with the beard and glasses, finished his signature and looked up at the boy, “What do you mean, do I believe that Lyra exists?”

No, that’s not it, the boy thought, but he couldn’t find the words to correct him, and his head nodded in agreement.

The man told the boy that the books were fantasy, creations of his mind. Of course the boy knew that, and left the bookshop disappointed. He loved the man’s books, got lost in their mystery and wonder, but his message didn’t really make much sense. Why is God a false god, one to be torn down? Why is the Church an oppressive force, an army led by corruption?

I mean, in real-life, the Church is good and whole, and God is loving, complete and perfect, right? Really though, right?



Guilty pleasure:

Self-confidence and arrogance-Draft one.

In the middle of the campaign, I realized that my desire to lead was in no small part due to an ambition to be succesful. How I want to lead, those motivations are quite different, and are influenced by a much more broad social awareness. But my desire to be President of the United States of America...that's stems from my arrogance and my cockiness as much as my desire to see change. And I began to struggle with that.

Quickly, I tried to apply that perspective to politicians at large, be it POTUS or School Board Rep, and I realized, only people who are arrogant enough to believe that they alone are the best for the position (why else run?) will ever step into the ring.

Now, I believe that this kind of cynacism toward politics has long since been intergrated into our culture, and certainly don't believe that this line of thought is anything new.

But the cultural acceptance of the arrogance of politicians its pitted against our societies need for our politicians to appear less than self centered; shaking hands, trips to soup kitchens, building homes with whatever. Acts of charity.

But how can that act of charity be selfless, when it gets them elected?

The point that I hope to make, if not today, someday, is that the concept of political office is inherently flawed, and even in concept corrupted, as it is based on appearances and perceptions, the two of which being the most variable aspects of our world.

Controlling my appearance is formulaic, and altering your perspective is easier than you'll let yourself think. And if your perspective is out of your control, think about the hundreds of millions of fellow citizens and billions of your fellow human that haven't been given the opportunity for self awareness like you've been given.

I think that it is very, very important for to recongnize the flaws that are buried within our system, because only then can we use our system to its fullest extent. I should say that I truly believe that democracy and capitalism together combine to form a society that creates the most opportunity for development of all people, and that our form of democracy, with all its flaws, stays true to the ideals that we set out with.

I believe that we must always fight, uncompromising, for what we believe is right. But I believe that to be most successful in our fight, we must recognize first what the world is, and recognize second what it isn't. Because when we pit ourselves against institutions, we must understand their strengths as they relate to their weaknesses, rather than strengths and weaknesses and when it comes to our democratic systems, we tend to understand its strengths independently from its weaknesses, attacking one without recognizing how it will affect the other.

Because we cannot create things without flaws, as we ourselves are flawed.

And that's ok.


How to save newspapers

I was going to post this on Twitter, but then I realized that I was mostly curious in all of y'all's reactions to the piece, so I decided to through it up here.

Its an Op-Ed piece in the times, and puts forth a fascinating argument.


This is the part of that, that I really think is most valuable.

"But here’s the thing that’s most important to me, that you take the spirit the, culture of this campaign, that you keep applying it not just campaigns. That sense of possibility that you guys can do anything that you guys can reimagine the world that you can lead not by trying to manipulate your way or by trying to push down somebody else but that you can lead through the force of your example, and your discipline and your creativity. I just hope that you carry that with you everywhere you go, because that’s what America needs right now, active citizens like you. Who are willing to turn towards each other, talk to people you’ve never met and say “common lets go do this, lets go change the world, lets go teach our children, lets go figure out a way to make the healthcare system work for every American lets go make sure that there’s accountability in our government. Lets go to other countries and spread the word of freedom and democracy but also prosperity and equality and justice. What an enormous force you’ve got inside yourselves. Don’t put that on the shelf and wait for the next four years. Next week, next month, next year, for the rest of your lives, cling on to that essential thing about you. What made this campaign special was YOU, and don’t let anyone take that away from you. Because I promise you, if everybody in this hall is willing to keep doing what you guys did over the last two years, then I’m optimistic about America. I may make some mistakes but you’ll set me right, and after I’m out of office and you’ll set the next person right, and maybe someday you’ll be in office and you’ll set the country right and maybe you’ll never be in office but you’ll make your neighborhood right, or you’ll make your job right. I am confident in you, I have faith in you, I am grateful to you, you, together, can change the world."


I'm struck by a great desire to create

little boy, trying to be big
he reaches for the net,
"someday, i'll dunk!"

turns out that dunking
has a lot more do it
than just height.


Pondering Pondering

A couple months ago I visited Patrick in Portland. He was still in school, so I had some time to kick around on my own. I decided I'd take his bike and cruise around in downtown Portland, to check out the scene but mainly to investigate Powell's Books, a four story book store comprising an entire city block. Save for a cafe in the corner, the entire space is filled with books.

On the second floor, in the north west corner, they have two stacks dedicated to books about former presidents. Along the walls surrounding the stacks are books about African-American History--one of those walls is solely civil-rights. I couldn't have found a better place, having just come off of 5 extremely full months working for Barack Obama.

I spent about 3 hours in those two sections, pouring over books about Benjamin Franklin, slavery, James Polk, Richard Nixon, Malcolm X, Bill Clinton, FDR, JFK, RFK, MLK, and so, so much more. Finally, I tallied the books that I picked up: 14. I groaned. Too much! I thought, and began the process of whittling down my choices.

The one on James Polk? I didn't even know the name before I saw the book. How much can I really want to read him.

3 books about Robert Kennedy? He was killed before he could make much of a difference, right? Do I really need three?

Logic or not, I couldn't part with those books. So I decided instead just to get them. I had 2 months before I would go to school, I figured. I can knock plenty of these down.

So I piled them up and began to navigate my way back to the register (they almost reached my nose), and had the whole pile shipped to my house. Nearly 3 months later, I haven't finished a single book. I am, however, closer than I've been yet. Since I've arrived in Madison, I've spent more time reading than in the last three months combined.

The book is Martin Luther King Jr.'s Why We Can't Wait, his account of the direct-action they took to end segregation in Birmingham. I've also started reading Malcolm X Speaks a compilation of speeches he gave in the year before his assassination put together by his wife Betty Shabazz.

Reading this books have brought with them moments of intense reflection. I wasn't born into a time when segregation was legal, yet I grew up in a village that in 2000 was 91% white, and 2.5% black, next to a city that is 43% white and 39% black and in a county that is 65.5% white and 25.5% black. In my lifetime, my city has known no riots, nor serious protest. Perhaps this is solely ignorance, but I haven't seen my community unite under any banner or behind any cause, for better or worse. We have been a community of complacency.

I wonder where the energy and the anger from the civil-rights movement went, about whether the quality of our leaders has diminished, and how to break from our current status and bring together again in revolution.

I wonder why I haven't read X before, why the only exposure I had to MLK was copying his "I have a Dream" speach in grade school as detention and reading "A Letter from a Birmingham Jail" in AP English.

I wonder why I wasn't more impressed by what I already knew about both these men, and seeing the profound affect these men had on their society, I wonder why we don't have leaders like that today.


I Have a Dream

We the People

A Letter from a Birmingham Jail

16 April 1963

My Dear Fellow Clergymen:
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against "outsiders coming in." I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here.

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation.

Then, last September, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham's economic community. In the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants--for example, to remove the stores' humiliating racial signs. On the basis of these promises, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to a moratorium on all demonstrations. As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. A few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained. As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community. Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves: "Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?" "Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?" We decided to schedule our direct action program for the Easter season, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year. Knowing that a strong economic-withdrawal program would be the by product of direct action, we felt that this would be the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.

Then it occurred to us that Birmingham's mayoral election was coming up in March, and we speedily decided to postpone action until after election day. When we discovered that the Commissioner of Public Safety, Eugene "Bull" Connor, had piled up enough votes to be in the run off, we decided again to postpone action until the day after the run off so that the demonstrations could not be used to cloud the issues. Like many others, we waited to see Mr. Connor defeated, and to this end we endured postponement after postponement. Having aided in this community need, we felt that our direct action program could be delayed no longer.

You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.

One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: "Why didn't you give the new city administration time to act?" The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an "I it" relationship for an "I thou" relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man's tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.

Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal. Let me give another explanation. A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state's segregation laws was democratically elected? Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered. Can any law enacted under such circumstances be considered democratically structured?

Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.

I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.

We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country's antireligious laws.

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn't this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn't this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn't this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God's will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber. I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: "All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth." Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.

You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. I began thinking about the fact that I stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency, made up in part of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, are so drained of self respect and a sense of "somebodiness" that they have adjusted to segregation; and in part of a few middle-class Negroes who, because of a degree of academic and economic security and because in some ways they profit by segregation, have become insensitive to the problems of the masses. The other force is one of bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black nationalist groups that are springing up across the nation, the largest and best known being Elijah Muhammad's Muslim movement. Nourished by the Negro's frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination, this movement is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incorrigible "devil."

I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the "do nothingism" of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist. For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle. If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many streets of the South would, I am convinced, be flowing with blood. And I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as "rabble rousers" and "outside agitators" those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black nationalist ideologies--a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare.

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides -and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: "Get rid of your discontent." Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist. But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . ." So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime--the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

I had hoped that the white moderate would see this need. Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much. I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action. I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers in the South have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still all too few in quantity, but they are big in quality. Some -such as Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, James McBride Dabbs, Ann Braden and Sarah Patton Boyle--have written about our struggle in eloquent and prophetic terms. Others have marched with us down nameless streets of the South. They have languished in filthy, roach infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality of policemen who view them as "dirty nigger-lovers." Unlike so many of their moderate brothers and sisters, they have recognized the urgency of the moment and sensed the need for powerful "action" antidotes to combat the disease of segregation. Let me take note of my other major disappointment. I have been so greatly disappointed with the white church and its leadership. Of course, there are some notable exceptions. I am not unmindful of the fact that each of you has taken some significant stands on this issue. I commend you, Reverend Stallings, for your Christian stand on this past Sunday, in welcoming Negroes to your worship service on a nonsegregated basis. I commend the Catholic leaders of this state for integrating Spring Hill College several years ago.

But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen.

When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church. I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained glass windows.

In spite of my shattered dreams, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure. I had hoped that each of you would understand. But again I have been disappointed.

I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: "Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother." In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: "Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern." And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.

I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South's beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: "What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?"

Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

There was a time when the church was very powerful--in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators."' But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven," called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent--and often even vocal--sanction of things as they are.

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom. They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have gone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jail with us. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment. I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America's destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands. Before closing I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly. You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping "order" and "preventing violence." I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department.

It is true that the police have exercised a degree of discipline in handling the demonstrators. In this sense they have conducted themselves rather "nonviolently" in public. But for what purpose? To preserve the evil system of segregation. Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. Perhaps Mr. Connor and his policemen have been rather nonviolent in public, as was Chief Pritchett in Albany, Georgia, but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of racial injustice. As T. S. Eliot has said: "The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason."

I wish you had commended the Negro sit inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face jeering and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer. They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy two year old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness: "My feets is tired, but my soul is at rest." They will be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience' sake. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Never before have I written so long a letter. I'm afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers?

If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.

I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil-rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,
Martin Luther King, Jr.



I just got this email from the New York Times:

Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Saturday, January 17, 2009 -- 4:26 PM ET

Israel Announces Cease-Fire in Gaza

Israel announced a unilateral cease-fire on Saturday evening
in the three-week-old war in Gaza that has killed at least
1,200 Palestinians and 13 Israelis. Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert told Israelis in a televised address: "The conditions
have been created that our aims, as declared, were attained
fully, and beyond."

Read More:

To put that in perspective, that would be like if you had 12 dollars in your pocket and 13 cents fell out.



Update from 472 Selery

I'm sorry for the eerie wink at the end of that...


sisyphean task

writing has always been a Sisyphean task for me, but recently its been exaggerated. every time i struggle to capture something in words and trap something within a sentence and create something within a paragraph i miss. kind of as if i were playing darts. i'm no good at that either.

i sit here, desperately wanting to write something that would express the intenseness of my frustration and the height of my excitement. and everytime i put something on this page, i like it just a little bit. so i work on it, and work on it, and suddenly its trash again. the boulder comes tumbling down the hill.

the thing about my particular sisyphean task is that i don't have all the gods of olympus requiring that i keep writing. just the demons in my head. so what's keeps me putting words on the page? is that even a sentence?

I'm going to go eat breakfast, and try again.


And one becomes two.

The orange hung in the air. I brought the samurai-sword like knife behind me. The fruit came closer, closer, falling as it approached. I swung, neatly slicing the orange; the two halves fell at my feet.

I have a pretty good guess as to what the orange felt as it approached that blade, out of control, yet perfectly aware of what was to come.

Its a shitty feeling.


We must abandon all support for Israel.

As the United States of America, we can in no way shape or form condone the violence that Israel has wrought upon the people of Palestine. The New York Times Reports that at the least 446 Palestinians have been killed and that over 2000 are wounded. Yesterday the Israeli attacks claimed the lives of 11, while they were worshiping at a mosque. Some were children.

This can not stand.

The United States has lost a lot of moral ground over the course of the last eight years, and the world started to look down on us. But the world is looking for a leader right now, and we are in the position to set an example for it to follow. We must end any and all support for the State of Israel, be it financial, diplomatic, or military.

Barack Obama has a responsibility to the people who elected him to end the violence in Palestine, not only because he promise a change in policy and practices but because it was the downtrodden and voiceless in America that put him in office.

It is the same downtrodden and voice in Palestine who now are losing their lives.

So for Obama to live up both to his creed and the people who support him, for Obama to become the leader we need, and for our country to set an example that the world can follow, we need to end the violence in Palestine.